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Shelburne Falls Bridge HAER No. MA- 96 

Spanning the Deerfield River on Bridge Street 

Shelburne/Buckland 

Franklin County 

Massachusetts 



PHOTOGRAPHS 
WRITTEN HISTORICAL AND DESCRIPTIVE DATA 



Historic American Engineering Record 
National Park Service 
Department of the Interior 
Washington, DC 20013-7127 



HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA-96 



Location: 



Date of 
Construction : 

Structural Type 

Engineer : 

Fabricator/ 
Builder : 

Owner : 

Use: 

Significance : 



Spanning the Deerfield River on Bridge Street, in the 
village of Shelburne Falls, between the towns of Shelburne 
and Buckland, Franklin County, Massachusetts 
UTM: Shelburne Falls, Mass., Quad. 18/685330/4719070 



1890 



Three -span wrought- iron double- intersection Warren through 
truss bridge 

Edward S. Shaw, Boston, Massachusetts 



Vermont Construction Company, St. Albans, Vermont 
Towns of Shelburne and Buckland, Massachusetts 
Vehicular and pedestrian bridge 

The Shelburne Falls Bridge is the second oldest of seven 
double - intersection Warren through trusses identified in the 
Massachusetts Department of Public Works database. The 
bridge was designed by Edward S. Shaw, an important late- 
nineteenth and early- twentieth century Massachusetts 
engineer; it was built by the Vermont Construction Company, 
a significant late -nineteenth century bridge -manufacturing 
company. The bridge is notable for its three -span length of 
320', and its detailing, including the latticed railing, 
webbed portal bracing, and ornamental builder's plates. The 
bridge is an integral part, both visually and historically, 
of the historic villaee of Shelburne Falls. 



Proj ect 
Information : 



Documentation of the Shelburne Falls Bridge is part of the 
Massachusetts Historic Bridge Recording Project, conducted 
during the summer of 1990 under the co - sponsorship of 
HABS/HAER and the Massachusetts Department of Public Works, 
in cooperation with the Massachusetts Historical Commission. 



Lola Bennett, HAER Historian, August 1990 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA -96 
(page 2) 



Description 

The Shelburne Falls Bridge is a three-span, 313 -foot, riveted wrought 
iron double - intersection Warren through truss, resting on mortared granite 
piers and abutments. The east and center spans are identical, both being 
109' -6" in length. The west span is similar in form, but is somewhat shorter, 
being 94' -6" in length. The top chord and inclined endposts are 16"xl2h" 
built-up members, consisting of three plates and four angles, with lacing and 
tie plates on the underside. The lower chord is two parallel built-up 
members, in the shape of inverted T's, each comprised of a 12" plate and two 
angles. The upper and lower chords are connected by means of sub -struts (two 
angles with lacing) and vertical hip posts (two 3k"x5" angles) at the ends of 
each truss, and a series of built-up diagonal members, crossing at even 
intervals along the length of each truss. Diagonals angling down toward the 
ends are two angles connected with lacing; diagonals angling up toward the 
ends are paired angles. The lower chord passes between the paired diagonal 
members and carries the built-up, I-section floor beams, which consist of a 
28" plate and four angles. The trusses are laterally braced between the upper 
and lower chords by two pairs of angles crossing at each bay between panel 
points. The wrought iron stringers, running between the floor beams, support 
a timber plank deck, covered with asphalt paving. The deck is 19' -0" wide 
between the wheel guards. Raised sidewalks, approximately 7' wide, resting on 
latticed outriggers, run the length of the bridge on either side of the 
roadway. The sidewalk railings are riveted iron lattice work with squared, 
cast-iron endposts. The portals are defined by the inclined endposts of the 
trusses and latticed transverse struts crossing between them. The portals 
have latticed brackets, and decorative builder's plates, which read: 

1890 

Bridge Committee 
George G. Merrill, Emerson J. Griswold, 
David W. Temple, Michael Atkins, 
George E. Taylor, George Rowland, 

Edward S. Shaw, Engineer, 
Vermont Construction Co. Contractors, 
R.F. Hawkins, President 

(See Figures 1 and 2.) 
Shelburne Falls 

Shelburne Falls, once known as "Salmon Falls," was an important Indian 
fishing ground prior to English settlement of the area in the mid 1700s. 
Today the village is home to many artisans and craftsmen, and is known for its 
quaint little shops and restaurants, as well as for a unique tourist 
attraction known as the "Bridge of Flowers," a turn- of - the - century trolley 
bridge which has been restored and turned into a garden walkway. The village, 
which is divided in half by the Deerfield River, is actually comprised of 
parts of two towns, Buckland on the west and Shelburne on the east. (See Figure 
3.) Standing directly in the center of town, the Shelburne Falls Bridge is 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA- 96 
(page 3) 



the main connection between the two parts of the village, and has always 
carried a heavy flow of traffic across the river. 

Although the two towns have always had a primarily agricultural economy, 
the village of Shelburne Falls developed around small manufactories, which 
utilized the water power of the falls. An 1879 county history described 
Shelburne Falls this way: 

Shelburne Falls is a thriving manufacturing village, 
numbering 1500 inhabitants, located upon both sides of Deerfield 
River, and connected by an iron bridge. The Shelburne side of the 
village contains about 1000 people, and is the chief business 
portion of the place. Many handsome residences border its finely- 
shaded avenues, and upon its main business thoroughfare -- Bridge 
Street- -are several substantial and imposing brick blocks. ... 

There are also in this portion of the village, the Shelburne 
Falls Academy, two banks, three churches, two public halls, 
numerous stores, Gardner's cutlery-works, a silk- twist 
manufactory, a harmonica factory, a brace -bit factory, a tannery, 
and other minor industries. 

The Shelburne side of the village derives considerable 
business support and population from the employees of the Lamson & 
Goodnow Cutlery Company, whose works are on the Buckland side of 
the river. 

Shelburne Falls possesses a naturally attractive location, 
and, resting upon the sinuous and swiftly- flowing Deerfield, 
within the shadows of gigantic hills which tower aloft upon the 
east and west, it presents to the eye of the passing traveler a 
picture upon which it may rest with more than ordinary pleasure.^ 

A river crossing in the center of the village has historically been the 
critical component, not only to the success of the industries there, but to 
the economic and social well-being of the village as a whole. 

Early Bridges at Shelburne Falls 

Perhaps the earliest bridge at Shelburne Falls was a log foot bridge, 
built by Jonathan Wood, owner of the first saw mill there, sometime prior to 
1789.^ In 1779 the towns of Buckland and Shelburne voted to build a bridge 
above the falls, but there are no records of this bridge ever being built. 
The community relied, instead, on a crude boat hollowed out of a pine tree. 

As was the custom of the times when a person wished to cross the 
river, he would go to the water's edge, and if the boat was on the 
opposite shore, call, "Hello, the boat!" It then became the duty 
of anyone who heard the call, no matter how busy he might be, to 
cross the river and get the passenger.-^ 

For heavier loads, crossing was made by ford in the suimner when the river was 
low, or ice bridges in the winter when the river was frozen. This, of course, 
tended to be rather inconvenient at times, particularly when the weather was 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA.- 96 
(page 4) 



uncooperative . 

In March of 1820, William Wells and others petitioned the county 
conunissioners for a grant of money to build a bridge over the Deerfield River 
at a place called "the falls" between Shelburne and Buckland.^ This request 
was granted the following year. Captain Johnson, a stone mason from Buckland, 
built the abutments, and a man from Deerfield, by the name of Sheldon, erected 
the bridge, said to be a Burr arch bridge, a type commonly built in New 
England during the nineteenth century.^ This bridge served the village for 
many years, until October 4, 1869, the day of The Great Flood- -a day not soon 
to be forgotten in New England's history. It is said that the Deerfield 
River, "a stream fed by mountain brooks and flowing in places through narrow 
gorges at the foot of precipitous slopes, may rise suddenly, calamitously in a 
very short time, changing quickly from a peaceful river into a raging 
torrent."^ On that fateful October day, the rain became a veritable deluge, 
the flood waters rose, and along the lengths of many rivers, roads, bridges, 
homes and businesses were severly damaged or destroyed. A few days later, the 
Greenfield newspaper reported the damage at Shelburne Falls: 

Seven o'clock, Monday morning, the water was over the foot bridge 
over the Deerfield. From that time till 1, P.M., the water kept 
rising, part of the time at the rate of six feet per hour, till it 
was higher by several feet than the oldest inhabitant had ever 
seen. The brook first commenced to do damage, flooding cellars, 
undermining houses and compelling the inmates to flee to the house 
tops and to be taken of in boats. When the river rose, the brook 
which runs under the village dammed up, set back and became a 
mighty river. About 12, the damage from the river commenced. The 
middle section of the bridge went first, then the east side, then 
the west. ... The river was full of bridges, machinery, cotton, 
logs, trees, float-wood and about every conceivable thing that 
would float . 

The village immediately set to work making plans for a new bridge. In 
the meantime, the ferry was put back in use, and a temporary foot bridge was 
erected. About a month after the flood, the newspaper reported that, by 
unanimous vote, the Shelburne Falls bridge committee had decided to erect, "a 
fine substantial iron bridge, Herthel's Patent Parabolic Iron Truss Bridge, 
instead of the lattice one, to replace the one swept away by the flood. 
Price, $58 per foot; length, 360 feet."^ The two towns contracted with 
Hawkins & Burrall of Springfield for the construction of this new bridge.' 

The erection of the bridge took place between January and April of 1870. 
It was an incredible event for the village, and newspaper items during the 
winter months indicated a growing impatience with the primitive ferry and 
footbridge systems. The weather that winter was quite unpredictable, and 
consequently, there was alot of grumbling over the "everlasting raining," the 
level of the river, the grounding of the ferry boat, and the loss of two foot 
bridges. Work on the bridge was progressing, but obviously not fast enough 
for the villagers. Their high spirits getting the best of them, the towns- 
people began crossing the bridge even before it seemed reasonably safe to do 
so, often to the annoyance of the workmen. Finally they could contain 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA- 96 
(page 5) 



themselves no longer. On February 17, while the contractors were at lunch, 
someone laid some temporary planks on the bridge and several teams snuck 
across, much to the delight and amusement of everyone present. Later that 
afternoon, the contractors laid the last "official" plank on the deck, and 
although the bridge was still not complete, the celebration began: 

The Shelburne Falls band volunteered their services and played 
several spirited tunes. Three times three rousing cheers were 
given for the bridge, contractors and band. ... The band then 
marched to the ferry boat and were ferried over in good style 
while they played a funeral dirge. ... The boat then made its last 
trip with its flag half mast. Every inch of the rope was covered 
with willing hands and we made the quickest time on record. We 
considered it as great an honor to make the last trip in that 
staunch boat with its faithful, good natured ferryman, as to first 
cross our new bridge. It is only four months since our old bridge 
went off, and now we have a substantial and ornamental bridge of 
which we are all proud. ^°(See Figure 4.) 

That was not the end of the celebrating, however. A week later, the village 
held a dedication ball, and on April 1, after the bridge was completed and 
accepted by the bridge committee, there was "a grand finishing up dedication 
supper and celebration." Shortly after the bridge was made passable, the 
newspaper carried a number of reports of incidents reflecting the gay mood 
among the villagers. Among them, were the following items: 

Everybody has been so happy and good in consequence of having the 
new bridge, that we have no criminal proceedings to record. I 
believe, however, that there has been some tall swearing done by 
persons who had their hats and caps blown off into the river while 
crossing. Four hats were blown off the first day of its use. But 
there is no use of grumbling. A man better have all his clothing 
blown off than have to resort to the ferry boat again. 

An attempt to make us walk our horses across the new bridge proved 
a failure. There is no need for such a law as the bridge has been 
pronounced by the builders competent to carry one hundred tons to 
each span and allow of fast driving. 

Unfortunately, these feelings were short-lived. Less than three years 
after the bridge was completed, on December 27, 1872, a cart loaded with 
planks and drawn by two teams of oxen was crossing the bridge, when the middle 
span collapsed and fell into the river. Fortunately, only one person was 
injured, and he eventually recovered. The town selectmen immediately began to 
make arrangements for the bridge to be repaired, in spite of "a growing 
feeling in town in favor of wooden bridges. "^^ A few days later, R.F. 
Hawkins, the bridge contractor, met with the selectmen and agreed to replace 
the middle span at his expense. 

Work commenced on the bridge repairs in March, 1873. In the meantime, 
townspeople were forced to resort to crossing the river on the ice, or over a 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA- 96 
(page 6) 



rather precarious rope suspension bridge erected between the east and west 
spans of the iron bridge, although this was done without many complaints. As 
a more viable long-term solution, the ferry boat was put back into service 
late in January. Interestingly enough, the newspaper carried no reports of 
people trying to cross the bridge before it was finished this time. The 
bridge repairs were finally completed early in May, and this somewhat subdued 
item appeared in the newspaper: 

Supt. Hinman has arrived with the cross iron arches for the 
steadying of the spans. They are to be placed over the roadway. 
From the end ones will be suspended notices stating the penalty 
for trotting across the bridge. We are going to treat this bridge 
better than we did the last one.^^(See Figures 5 and 6.) 

On the other hand, some people were beginning to feel that perhaps the 
"newfangled" iron bridges were not as strong as they had been led to believe, 
and that they might have been too quick to rid themselves of the more 
primitive, yet time-tested, methods of crossing the river. A few days after 
the bridge repairs were completed, this item appeared in the newspaper: 

Now if possible we shall get our town fathers to test the support- 
ing power of the bridge before any lives are lost on account of 
its weakness. Considering the many iron bridges that are falling 
in different parts of the country, it is due every citizen of this 
county that our own be properly tested. It can be done very 
easily. If it falls we had rather wade the river ... To business 
and no more fooling.^'' 

Apparently, however, the repairs held in good order, the villagers were 
more cautious in their use of the bridge, and it wasn't until nearly twenty 
years later that the safety of the bridge came into question once again. 

The Shelburne Falls Bridge 

In February of 1890, Katie Bender of Buckland sued the town of Shelburne 
for $3000, after she allegedly sprained her ankle by catching her foot in a 
hole in the sidewalk of the bridge. The selectmen of the two towns 
immediately sent for civil engineer Edward S. Shaw of Boston, and asked him to 
inspect the bridge and make recommendations. On March 29, shortly after Shaw 
had examined the structure, the newspaper reported this of his visit: 

[His] official report has not yet been received, but he did remark 
that it was liable to go down any time under the heavy load, that 
it would apparently sustain forty pounds to the square foot. 
Sometimes by actual weight there has been thirty pounds of ice, 
rain and snow to the square foot. He said a new bridge now would 
contain nearly twice as much iron, and that cast iron was not good 
material for bridges, either alone or in connection with wrought 
iron. It is evident that something radical must be done . 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA- 96 
(page 7) 

Based on Shaw's report, in April 1890, at separate town meetings, the 
towns of Buckland and Shelburne voted to build a new bridge over the Deerfield 
River. A bridge committee was formed and they immediately engaged Edward Shaw 
as the consulting engineer on the project. By early May, the committee had 
decided to build "an iron riveted lattice bridge of three spans. 
According to the newspaper's description, this bridge was to be "as good an 
iron bridge ... as money and skill will procure. There will be as little wood 
about it as possible. The sleepers will be iron, and the flooring plank. . . . 
Its estimated cost is not far from $18,000."^^ Plans and specifications were 
drawn up by Shaw, and set forth in a 23 -page pamphlet issued to all companies 
giving estimates for the bridge. The May and June issues of Engineering News 
carried advertisements for bids for the proposed structure. These bids were 
opened at a meeting on June 12. The twelve bids were as follows^^: 



Vermont Construction Co., St. Albans, VT, $14,999 

Penn Bridge Co., Beaver Falls, PA, $16,200 

Boston Bridge Works, Boston, MA, $16,202 

Rochester Bridge Works, Rochester, NY, $16,369 

King Bridge Co, Cleveland, OH, $16,610 

Groton Bridge Co., Groton, NY, $16,750 

Berlin Iron Bridge Co., East Berlin, CT, $17,290 

Hilton Bridge Co., Albany, NY, $17,500 

Canton Bridge Co., Canton, OH, $18,000 

Pittsburgh Bridge Co., Pittsburgh, PA, $18,326 

Wallis Iron Works, Jersey City, N J , $20,800 

New Jersey Steel & Iron Co., Trenton, NJ , $22,067 



The Vermont Construction Company, being the low bidder, was awarded the 
contract. Later that month, they bought the old bridge from the two towns for 
$900.23 

Construction of the bridge began in August 1890. A local mason, George 
G. Merrill, made necessary repairs to the abutments and piers. During the 
first week of September, the first load of iron arrived, and work on the spans 
commenced. Work proceeded steadily throughout the fall of that year. The 
plan was to erect the new bridge and dismantle the old one simultaneously, so 
as to inconvenience the public as little as possible. According to newspaper 
accounts, the bridge was only closed three times during the entire 
construction, while the flooring was being laid. The Shelburne Falls Bridge 
was completed early in December, and the newspaper described it as follows: 

The new iron bridge is practically completed and the traveling 
public take solid comfort in crossing it. It is above the reach 
of floods, tasty in looks and thoroughly and strongly built. It 
is practically safe for any speed or any strain it can be 
subjected to, and with care should last ninety-nine years. And 
yet the cold and heat will move it from one -fourth to one inch. 
It has been erected without any serious accident to the laborers 
or the public. It is a wrought - iron , riveted, lattice bridge of 
three spans, with lower floor of spruce two inches thick. The 
stringers and beams are all iron. No iron used has less tensible 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA- 96 
(page 9) 



nineteenth and early- twentieth centuries. Although the number of significant 
Massachusetts bridges attributed to him attest to his talent, Shaw apparently 
led a rather unassuming life, and little was ever recorded about him; however, 
nearly all contemporary mentions of his work pay tribute to his engineering 
expertise. For example, a newspaper article about one of the bridges he 
designed at Northfield in 1898, said that Shaw was "regarded as one of the 
most expert bridge engineers in New England."^ 

Shaw was first listed in Cambridge directories in 1873. He was listed 
as a student, boarding at 10 Kirkland Place, the home of George S. Shaw 
(apparently his father), a dealer in "fancy goods." George S. Shaw was not 
listed in directories prior to 1873. The following year, 1874, the 
directories carried the same listing for both Edward and his father. 
Beginning in 1875, and ending in 1918, Edward Shaw was listed as a civil 
engineer in Cambridge directories. During this period, Shaw was also listed 
in Boston city directories. The first listings, in 1881 and 1882, say that he 
was a draughtsman for the Boston & Lowell Railroad. Beginning in 1883, Shaw 
was listed under the heading of "Civil Engineers and Surveyors," and 
advertised his specialty as the design of "Bridges, Roofs, Railroad Stations 
and Buildings." By the early 1900s, Shaw was advertising as a "Bridge and 
Structural Engineer, and after 1912 as a "Consulting Engineer." Apparently, 
he retired in 1918, when he was last given an occupational listing. Edward 
Shaw died in Cambridge on October 3, 1919, at the age of 65. 

Among the eleven other surviving Massachusetts bridges, known to have 
been designed by him, are: the Holyoke Bridge, between Holyoke and South 
Hadley, 1890 (HAER No. MA-18); the Willimansett Bridge, between Holyoke and 
Chicopee, 1891; the Schell Memorial Bridge at Northfield, 1903 (HAER No. MA- 
111); spans 1, 2 and 3 of the Merrimac Bridge, between Haverhill and West 
Newbury, 1883 and 1895 (HAER No. MA-103); the Chapman Street Bridge at Canton, 
1888; and the Essex Bridge, between Salem and Beverly, 1897. 

R.F. Hawkins and the Vermont Construction Co. 

Richard Fenner Hawkins was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, March 9, 1937. 
When he was still very young, his family moved to Springfield, because his 
father, Alpheus Hawkins, received a contract to work on the construction of 
the Western Railroad from Worcester to Albany. At the age of 16, Richard 
began work as an office boy for Stone & Harris, a firm specializing in 
railroad and bridge building. This was the company which, in 1842, had 
succeeded the 1840 establishment of William Howe, inventor of the Howe truss 
bridge. In 1862, when Mr. Stone retired, Hawkins became a partner with D.L. 
Harris. Five years later, when Harris retired, Hawkins took over the 
business, under the name of R.F. Hawkins Iron Works. (See Figure 7.) The 
Hawkins plant manufactured iron bridges, steam boilers, castings, and 
machinery. It was said that Hawkins: 

should be credited in considerable measure with the development of 
the use of iron as a building commodity in New England. In 
addition to bridges he has conceived and turned out a large 
quantity of the iron and steel material used in the construction 
of the railroads and locomotives of today. 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA- 96 
(page 8) 



strength than 46,000 lbs. per square inch. ... Each end of the 
bridge will have an iron tablet containing the date of 
construction the names of the committee, engineer and 
contractor . 



That winter, the villagers began putting the bridge to good use, as evidenced 
by the following items from the newspaper: 

No one but pedestrians stop to walk the bridge and the ice is a 
great rival to that.^^ 

Notwithstanding the large amount of snow which has fallen, the 
town fathers have already had to order the new bridge snowed. 
There seems to be no end to the wood and lumber yet to be drawn 
over the bridge to the depot. 

Conclusion 



One hundred years have passed since the Shelburne Falls Bridge was 
erected, and during that time it has served the community well. In recent 
years, however, the community has had to pull together in an effort to save 
this important piece of its heritage. In 1929 the Massachusetts Department of 
Public Works took over the Shelburne Falls Bridge, as part of a state-wide 
program. Since that time, the bridge has been maintained by the state. In 
1985, the state determined that the bridge's load rating was insufficient for 
school buses and fire trucks, and proposed to replace the old span with a 
modern concrete structure. This proposal met with stiff resistance from the 
townspeople, who felt that without the bridge, the integrity of the village 
would be lost. The state then offered a revised plan for a bridge "more in 
keeping with the nineteenth century character of the village."^® This plan 
was tentatively approved by the town selectmen, but the townspeople were 
outraged and immediately began circulating petitions, writing letters, and 
meeting with state officials. In 1988, after many months of concerted effort, 
the villagers won the fight to save the bridge. The state now has plans for a 
$1.3 million reconstruction project, which will include replacement of the 
diagonal members and floor beams, and the laying of a new concrete deck. 

The Shelburne Falls Bridge is significant as the second oldest of seven 
double-intersection Warren through trusses identified in the Massachusetts 
Department of Public Works database. It was designed by an important late- 
nineteenth and early- twentieth century engineer, Edward S. Shaw, and built by 
a significant New England bridge -building firm, the Vermont Construction 
Company. The bridge is notable for its three-span length, and its detailing, 
including a latticed railing, latticed portal bracing, and ornamental 
builder's plates. The bridge is an integral part, both visually and 
historically, of the historic village of Shelburne Falls. 



Edward S . Shaw 



Edward S. Shaw was a civil engineer who lived in Cambridge, 
Massachusetts, and maintained a professional office in Boston during the late- 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA- 96 
(page 10) 



Among his most notable works were the New Bedford and Springfield jails, the 
Willimansett Bridge near Holyoke, a series of bridges for the LaMoille Valley 
Railroad, and the Central Massachusetts Railroad Bridge at Northampton. 

In about 1885, Hawkins established a branch of the Springfield works at 
St. Albans, Vermont, in a building formerly used by the St. Albans Iron & 
Steel Works. There, he employed about sixty men in the manufacture of iron 
and steel bridges, many of which were for the railroads. A year later, 
Hawkins, along with several other New England industrialists, incorporated the 
Vermont Construction Company. (See Figures 8-10.) 

Within just five years, the works occupied by the company were proving 
inadequate, so they leased property from the Central Vermont Railroad, and 
built a large complex of shops. A county history from that year described the 
Vermont Construction Company as follows: 

This is the only bridge -building company in Northern New England, 
and they are designers and manufacturers of iron and steel bridges 
for railroads and highways, and also viaducts, girders, 
turntables, iron roofs, iron piers, trestles, and every variety of 
iron construction and iron and steel structural work. The 
capacity of the works has been doubled and employment is now given 
to 130 hands, and under the present manager the business has 
increased over one hundred percent. 

The Vermont Construction Company built a number of notable bridges, 
among them: a 2,000-foot bridge crossing the east channel of Lake Champlain, 
the 650-foot Hartford Bridge of the Central Vermont Railroad, a 330-foot 
highway bridge at Sheldon, Vermont, and the Shelburne Falls Bridge at 
Shelburne, Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Department of Public Works (MDPW) 
has compiled a list of approximately twenty bridges thought to have been built 
by the Vermont Construction Company between 1886 and 1900. 

The last listing for the Vermont Construction Company was in the 1900 
St. Albans directory. In 1901, the company apparently changed its name to New 
England Bridge Works, perhaps reflecting a change in ownership. This company 
continued to be listed in Vermont directories until the 1920s. 

R.F. Hawkins Iron Works continued to be listed in Springfield 
directories until 1910. Three years later, on March 5, 1913, Hawkins died at 
the age of 76. Biographical sketches of his life suggest that R.F. Hawkins 
would not only be remembered for his success in the bridge -building industry, 
but for his strength of character as well: 

Although to the majority of its citizens he was knov.Ti as the owner 
of the great R.F.Hawkins iron works, whose skill and ability was 
responsible for some of the best railway bridges in New England, 
to his closest freinds he was the kindly man, who in the heat of 
the industrial conflict, in which he won his way from the position 
of office boy in the firm of Stone and Harris, to partnership in 
1862, was still the warm friend and true citizen.'^ (See Figure 
11.) 








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SHELBUR.NE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA-96 
(page 13) 




Figure 3. Map of Shelburne Falls. Massachusetts, F.W. Beers, 1870 



''TThelburne falls bridge 

HAER No. MA- 96 
(page 15) 










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SHELBUWJE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA-96 
(page 16) 




SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA- 96 
^» (page 17) 




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SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA-96 
(page 18) 




Tea'.m^ the Hirtford Br^J^", C. 7. R. K.. G^O f?';'. io:^; 12 '.octr r.ir". ; t-j;;. »03». 



VERMONT CONSTRUCTION CO. 

office: k^TD Zr.OVZ. ST. AL^ArS. "T. 

OF- l-- > - - ^ U -11- .1 ^ K.i 

Steely Wood and 'Stone 

T?, I 

Every Variety of Iron Construction, 
inn nci"* n Li:5t I i unii-r luc oilll ouiLcno. 



R. F. HAWKINS, Pres. D. E. BRADLEY, ManDqpp ind Tpp3s. 

GEO. A. AYER. Vice-Prei. E. B. JENNINGS. Consultinq Engineer. 



( The Vermont Business Directory for 1889 . ) 



11. I. IIA\Vi;l.s'S, Prril. W.ll W K 11 , T rr « i. « n4 Sec 

, i\ (.'. )UIVT, Encr. C. K IIABIUTT. Supi. 

THE VERMONT 
^ CONSTRUCTION GO, 

[ DESIGNERS AND MANUFACTURERS OF 

i Iron Steel Bridges, 

\ Viaducts, GlfJeis, lufnlablss and \m Roofs, 

I ST. ALBANS, VT. 

Wlieii writinc Adverlueri, please menuon Walion'j \ t. Ke;:sicr. 

( Walton's Vermont Register and Business Directory for 1894 . ) 



Figures 8-10. Advertisements for the Vermont Construction Company. 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA- 96 
(page 19) 




shelbur:;e falls bridge 

HAER No. MA-96 
(page 20) 




RICHARD HAWKINS. 



Figure 11. Portrait of Richard F. Hawkins. (Tooraey, 1892.) 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA-96 
(page 21) 



ENDNOTES 

1. Louis H. Everts, History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts , vol. 
2 (Philadelphia, 1879), p. 647. 

2. Fannie Shaw Kendrick, The History of Buckland. 1779 to 1935 (Buckland, 
Massachusetts, 1937), p . 64 . 

3. Ibid. 

4. Ibid, p. 65. 

5. Ibid. 

6. History and Tradition of Shelburne. Massachusetts (Shelburne, 
Massachusetts, 1958), p . 24 . 

7. Gazette and Courier . Greenfield, Massachusetts, October 11, 1869, p. 2. 

8. Ibid, November 1, 1869, p. 3. 

9. This was the predecessor to the R.F.Hawkins Iron Works. 

10. Gazette and Courier . February 21, 1870. 

11. Ibid, February 28, 1870. 

12. Ibid, March 14, 1870. 

13. Ibid, December 30, 1872. 

14. Ibid. 

15. Ibid, January 6, 1873. 

16. Ibid, May 5, 1873. 

17. Ibid, May 12, 1873. 

18. Ibid, February 15, 1890. 

19. Ibid, March 29, 1890. 

20. Ibid, May 3, 1890. 

21. Ibid, May 17, 1890. 

22. Engineering News . June 21, 1890, p. 46. 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA-96 
(page 22) 

23. Gazette and Courier . June 21, 1890. 

24. Ibid, September 6, 1890. 

25. Ibid, December 13, 1890. 

26. Ibid, January 10, 1891. 

27. Ibid, February 28, 1891. 

28. "Town Wins Fight To Save Bridge," New York Times . March 13, 1988. 

29. Gazette and Courier . July 30, 1898. 

30. Daniel P. Toomey, "Richard F. Hawkins," Massachusetts of To-Day: A 
Memorial of the State Issued for the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago 
(Boston, 1892), p. 347. 

31. Board of Trade, St. Albans, Vermont, "The Vermont Construction Co.," 
Advantages, Resources and Attractions of St. Albans. Vermont (Glens Falls, New 
York, 1889), p. 39. 

32. Lewis Cass Aldrich, History of Franklin and Grand Isle Counties. Vermont 
(Syracuse, New York, 1891), p. 700. 



33. Ibid, p. 701. 



I 



SHELBURNE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA-96 
(page 23) 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 



Aldrich, Lewis Cass. History of Franklin and Grand Isle Counties, Vermont . 
Syracuse, New York: D. Mason and Co., 1891. 

Board of Trade, St. Albans, Vermont. "The Vermont Construction Co.," 

Advantages. Resources and Attractions of St. Albans. Vermont . Glens 
Falls, New York: Charles H. Fossons , 1889. 

Clippings filed under "R.F. Hawkins," in the vertical file at the Springfield 
Public Library, Springfield, Massachusetts. 

Clippings and photos, filed under "Vermont Construction Company," in the 

vertical file at the St. Albans Historical Museum, St. Albans, Vermont. 

"Death of R.F. Hawkins: A Pioneer Bridge Builder," obituary, in The 
Springfield Daily Republican , March 6, 1913. 

Directory of St. Albans and Swanton, 1891-92 . Newburgh, New York: L.P. Waite 
and Co . , 1892 . 

Engineering Record . May 24, June 14, and June 21, 1890. 

Everts, Louis H. History of the Connecticut Vallev in Massachusetts , vol. 2. 
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott and Co., 1879. 

Greenfield Gazette and Courier . Greenfield, Massachusetts, 1869-1891. 

History and Tradition of Shelburne Committee. History and Tradition of 
Shelburne, Massachusetts . Springfield, Massachusetts: Pond-E.:berg 
Company Press, 1958. 

Kendrick, Fannie Shaw. The Historv of Buckland. 1779 to 1935 . Town of 
Buckland, Massachusetts, 1937. 

King, Moses, ed. "R.F. Hawkins Iron Works," King's Handbook of Springfield. 
Massachusetts . Springfield, Massachusetts: James D. Gill, Publisher, 
1884, p. 335-337. 

Nason, Elias. A Gazetteer of the State of Massachusetts , revised and enlarged 
by George J. Varney. Boston: B.B. Russell, 1890. 

Progressive Springfield , vol. 1, no. 2 (January 1891), pp. 89-90. 

"R.F. Hawkins Iron Works," Commerce, Manufactures and Resources of 

Springfield. Mass.: A Historical . Statistical and Descriptive Review . 
Springfield, Massachusetts: National Publishing Co., 1883, p. 53. 



SHELBITINE FALLS BRIDGE 
HAER No. MA- 96 
(page 24) 



"R.F. Hawkins Iron Works," Inland Massachusetts Illustrated . Springfield, 
Massachusetts: Elstner Publishing Co., 1890, p. 45. 

"R.F. Hawkins Iron Works," Sprinefield. 1880-1901 . Supplement to the 
Springfield Daily News . June 26, 1901, p. 58. 

"Richard Fenner Hawkins," The Leading Citizens of Hampden County. 

Massachusetts . Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Co., 1895. 

Toomey, Daniel P. "Richard F. Hawkins," Massachusetts of To-Day: A Memorial 
of the State Issued for the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago . 
Boston: Columbia Publishing Co., 1892, p. 347. 

Town of Shelburne Annual Reports . 1889-1890. 

The Vermont Business Directory . Boston: Briggs and Co., 1887, 1889. 

The Vermont State Directory and Gazetteer . 1890-1901. Boston: Union 
Publishing Co., various years. 

Walton's Vermont Register and Business Directory for 1894 . Burlington, 
Vermont: Home Publishing Co., 1893. 



HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 
SEE INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS FOR CAPTION 

HAER No. Wv -'- O'VL 



HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 
SEE INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS FOR CAPTION 



HAER No. .'vjyi ''^-11 




HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 
SEE INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS FOR CAPTION 

HAER No. UA'%- 10 



HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 
SEE INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS FOR CAPTION 

HAER No. M/l' T^'*^ 



HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 
SEE INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS FOR CAPTION 

HAER No. 8 



HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 
SEE INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS FOR CAPTION 

HAERNo. MA''%^7 



HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 
SEE INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS FOR CAPTION 

HAER No. ^(VV • b 



HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 
SEE INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS FOR CAPTION 



HAER No. MA-%-5 




HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 
SEE INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS FOR CAPTION 

HAER No. 




HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 
SEE INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS FOR CAPTION 




HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 
SEE INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS FOR CAPTION 



HAER No. \^IA'%'Z 




HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 
SEE INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS FOR CAPTION 

HAER No. M'^r ^"'^"1 



/ 



HISTORIC AMERICAN ENGINEERING RECORD 



INDEX TO PHOTOGRAPHS 



Shelburne Falls Bridge HAER No. MA- 96 

Spanning the Deerfield River on Bridge Street 

Shelburne - Buckland 

Franklin County 

Massachusetts 



Martin Stupich, Photographer, Suiruner 1990 

MA-96-1 General view from river bank, showing south elevation, looking 

north 

MA-96-2 General oblique view from river bank, looking northeast 

MA-96-3 General oblique view, showing south trusses and stone piers, 

looking northeast 

MA-96-4 Detail of typical truss configuration, southwest truss 

MA-96-5 Contextual view of east end of bridge, looking southeast 

MA-96-6 East masonry pier, looking south 

MA-96-7 Elevation of west portal from roadway, looking east 

MA-96-8 Detail, builder's plate, west portal, looking northeast 

MA-96-9 Oblique view of west portal, looking north 

MA-96-10 North sidewalk from west portal end, looking east 

MA-96-11 Detail of east truss, showing typical truss configuration, looking 
east 

MA-96-12 Detail of center span, showing endpost connections at northeast 
corner, looking northwest